Pac-12 media poll picks Arizona, ASU to finish in top half of conference
The Pac-12 Preseason Media Poll is out and both Arizona and Arizona State sit in the upper half of the projected standings. The Wildcats were placed in fourth while the Sun Devils were estimated to finish sixth.
Arizona is coming off of its worst season (17-15) since 2009-10 and its worst conference record (8-10) since 2007-08.
This year appears to give a better outlook due to roster upgrades throughout the team.
At guard, Miller brought in two consensus five-star recruits Nico Mannion and Josh Green.
Another guard, Max Hazzard, transferred in from UC Irvine, an NCAA tournament team last season. He was a huge threat from beyond the arc (third-best clip in the Big West at 38.8%) and should add quality bench shooting.
Big man Chase Jeter returns after a productive season and he should get more space inside this year since Arizona brought in Cornell transfer Stone Gettings, a stretch-four.
It’s possible that more could surface from investigations that stemmed from a nationwide college basketball scandal and led to the arrest of now-former Arizona assistant Book Richardson. But for now, things are looking up.
But, the Wildcats brought in the sixth-best recruiting class in country according to 247Sports, so they should be able to compete for the top spot in the Pac-12 again this season.
ASU was on the opposite end of the spectrum of UA last year.
The Devils finished 23-11, 12-6 in conference play. They ended up in second-place in the Pac-12 and even swept Arizona for the first time since 2008-09.
ASU made the tournament as an 11-seed after defeating St. John’s in the first four, but that was as far as the Sun Devils made it.
During the offseason, leading rebounder and rim protector Zylan Cheatham graduated (and signed with the New Orleans Pelicans) and top scorer, guard Luguentz Dort, left for the NBA Draft (he was not selected but he signed with Oklahoma City).
The Devils have a couple of replacements for Dort in four-start prospect Jaelen House and Alonzo Verge, a first-team junior college All-American last year. Replacing Cheatham’s production and tenacity is another story.
ASU could stick to a three-guard lineup like it has in recent years with Remy Martin, Rob Edwards and one of the newcomers and place a typical three in the four spot next to center Romello White. But the interior defense could suffer.
Both teams have had substantial roster turnover, but the conference as a whole looks murky.
The Pac-12 media poll predicts Oregon, Colorado and Washington to lead the conference, but the Ducks and Huskies are working with vastly different rosters from last season as well.
NBC Sports picked Oregon to be the top team, but it had Arizona right behind it.
NCAA.com’s Andy Katz selected the Huskies to win the conference and had CU in second.
The predictions are all over the place as the Pac-12 has a lot of fresh faces and could have a lot of close battles at the top. UA looks more equipped than ASU to contend for the Pac-12 crown, but both teams could end up dancing if the collection of talent meshes well enough.